Coffee Rhetoric: politics
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

June 19, 2012

Alice Walker Refuses Hebrew Translation of 'The Color Purple'

Author, activist, and womanist Alice Walker; whose famous novel, “The Color Purple" won the 1983 Pulitzer prize for fiction, has made it clear to Israeli publishers that she refuses to authorize the Hebrew translation of her acclaimed work; in a letter to the Israeli publisher Yediot books (an off-shoot of the daily Yediot Achronot newspaper), Walker charges that Israel is "guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people."  The missive (dated June 9th) appeared on the website, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

January 25, 2012

Yo Quiero Taco Bell: Translation; East Haven’s Mayor is An Insensitive Bigot

Racism and bigotry… This year, political hopefuls and elected officials seem to be wearing the ignorant tags like an expensive, well-tailored suit and my home state of Connecticut offers no exceptions.
After the FBI arrested four East Haven, CT police officers for gross instances of racial profiling and terrorization of Latinos navigating the town; assistant director-in-charge of the NY office of the FBI, Janice Fedarcyk, fittingly described them as a “cancerous cadre that routinely deprived East Haven residents of their civil rights.”  

Rather than co-sign the deserved sentiment and taking an opportunity to speak out against the racial profiling issues that've plagued his town for the past couple of years, East Haven Mayor, Joseph Maturo decided to skip on down to the edge of the plank and plunge head first, into a sea of hot, steaming caca… which splashed and hit the proverbial fan.
When prodded on camera by WPIX reporter Mario Diaz, about what he planned on doing for the Latino community to diffuse the situation, Maturo relaxed his shoulders and stupidly thoughtfully farted out this answer: “I might have tacos when I go home, I’m not quite sure… uhh, I’ve spent two years in Puerto Rico…” to which Diaz promptly snatched his wig and alerted him to the sheer stupidity of his comment. Not taking heed to the reporter’s warning, Maturo started to shift uncomfortably and tried to shake the poo he dove in, off. But alas, it was too late… he was covered in the stuff, but continued

"... uhh, I might have spaghetti tonight being of Italian descent. Uhhh… I’ve had ethnic food and when you asked me what I was doin’ for Latinos tonight I said I may have Latino food in the Latino community and there’s nothing wrong with that… so you can twist and turn it whichever the way the press decides to do!” he said defiantly, as he awkwardly continued to plod his way through the interview.

Joseph Maturo is a man at the helm of an entire town, yet he plunged the knife in deeper and continued to mar its reputation even further (the interview has made national headlines) - instead of acting like a responsible leader capable of formulating carefully constructed sentences about an already tense and delicate situation, not laden with racial stereotypes.  He was presented with the opportunity to reach out to the town’s Latino community while helping endorse a teachable moment, and he arrogantly opted to make things worse by perpetuating stupid racial tropes about a community of people, who've already been marginalized in his town.
Maturo not only trivialized the gravity of the situation, he became verbally combative with Mario Diaz when he should’ve taken the time to recover from his gaffe... even when he was flailing and fumbling to speak articulately about the situation.

Maturo’s foolery has taken the focus off of an important issue that needs addressing. He may want to consider more PR people…

The comment below following a story in the New Haven Register, pretty much sums it up:

“I was struck quite deeply by the Mayor’s words as they showed just that: racism. How can a man in such a position lead a community to healing, reconciliation and a better future when thru his words he reveals what is in his heart. Even the way he said it showed not only arrogance, but a kind of contempt. You’re right it kind of brought to my mind images of the old recordings you see from the 1960’s where the minorities are viewed as subhuman by the authorities.
The treatment of minorities in East Haven has been a badly kept secret in the Hispanic community for a long time… How can I spend my hard earned money in a community where its leaders show contempt for me?Last night I couldn’t sleep because I felt so angry. I kept thinking of how I show that hurt and anger in a positive way. Was thinking of sending Maturo tacos for lunch and encouraging others to do the same.”

**UPDATE:  Reform Immigration for America, a group focused on helping fight racial injustice, delivered 500 tacos to Mayor Joseph Maturo's office. Here're the details.

Additional Reading

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October 06, 2011

Hartford Politicking

ATTENTION HARTFORD RESIDENTS: I'm currently collaborating on a story about this year's voting process in Hartford, in response to the current campaigning and to perhaps gauge current voting trends in the Hartbeat. I'm wondering if you could PLEASE answer a few questions for me in the comments section or on the Coffee Rhetoric Facebook fan page.  I would greatly appreciate it and PLEASE be candid with your answers. This is an opportunity to have your voice heard! I would love to be able to feature some of your answers in my article. You'll be helping me out a lot! Thanks in advance! 

  • Are you currently registered to vote? Why/Why not? 
  • How do you feel about politics? And did you vote in the recent primary? Why/Why not? 
  • Two candidates ran for Mayor of Hartford. Did you vote for either? Why/Why not?
  • No Democratic women were endorsed for city council. Thoughts? 

Photo by Merle Davis

March 12, 2008

Par for The Course

Dear Elliot "Mr. Clean" Spitzer or Client 9,

The fact that you, as Attorney General of New York State, once laid down the law on a call-girl ring, locked up numerous people for corruption, money laundering and prostitution, and came down HARD on Wall Street executives is commendable. In any event, and without further ado, the call-girl ring leaders you busted and the Wall Street execs you chastised asked me to deliver a message ... BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That's it.

P.S. the fact that you hired a high priced hooker and shamed your family are not what has people perplexed and shaking their heads with amusement. But your sense of entitlement, your arrogance, your perceived invincibility, your sheer daftness, and your hypocrisy are what reek of piss. I can't say I'm surprised though. Regardless of what team a politician plays for, essentially, they're all the same; Untrustworthy, sanctimonious, hypocritical, ironic, and inconsistent in their behavior. THESE are the reasons why people in NY and the entire Northeast think you're a douche of massive proportions. So big in fact, Summer's Eve should do a study on your stupidity. That's it.

January 21, 2008

Unsung Activists

While everyone uses this day home from work and school to reflect on Martin Luther King's birthday, attend special observances and programs, or simply to piss around (or however you choose to spend your free day off)I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize the women who made a significant impact during the Civil Rights Movement. It's rare that we read or hear about how Black women (in addition to Rosa Parks) have impacted our (black) history and women's history in general. Stereotyped, hypersexualized, and often labeled as 'right bitches (or hoes, depending on who's hurling the insult), Black women... we don't get a fair or accurate rap sometimes. Zora Neale Hurston's contribution to African-American literature was written off by her Black, male literary peers, who accused her of "romanticizing" the Black experience, but that's for another post. My point is, we often can't get a break or any cred for the things we've done in the past and the ways in which we continue to thrive presently. We hear so much about the indelible mark Rosa Parks - left, it probably leaves some folks wondering if she was the ONLY black woman who fought for equality during this time. She's not.

JoAnne Gibson Robinson was a professor of English at Alabama State and member of the Women's Political Council. Months prior to Rosa Park's negative bus experience Gibson-Robinson experienced similar treatment from an abusive Montgomery City Lines driver and used her membership to the WPC as a catalyst for change. Ella Baker. Septima Poinsette Clark. Fannie Lou Hamer. Civil Rights overlooked revolutionaries who remained stealth, in the background... perhaps due to sexism, racism, and other biases. Author Lynne Olsen writes:

After the bus boycott got going and (Martin Luther) King got involved, they wouldn’t even let Rosa Parks speak at the first mass meeting. She asked to speak, and one of the ministers said he thought she had done enough.
Olson added that Parks is often depicted as a deferential woman who defied segregation laws at the urging of movement leaders, but in fact she had for years quietly pushed for racial justice — and she had carefully planned the actions that led to her arrest. She was not just a symbol, She was an agent. Olsen also added. I think it's great that we get to observe the significance of Martin Luther King's birthday and that it was made into a national holiday. I think he also wouldn't mind us extending thanks to some of the women that helped him make such relevant and important changes in helping him further his cause. ...

  • Ella Baker was a charismatic labor organizer and longtime leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She believed the movement should not place too much emphasis on leaders.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark, often called the “queen mother” of civil rights, was an educator and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People activist decades before the nation’s attention turned to racial equality.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, was beaten and jailed in 1962 for trying to register to vote. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and gave a fiery speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
  • Vivian Malone Jones defied segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963 and later worked in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

January 19, 2008

Handkerchief Head Negro

Is it just me, or do quite a few Black, male leader types from the Civil Rights era have a lot of disdain for Barack Obama's run for the White House? Where was the disappointment when Condi and Colin joined the ranks of the Bush Administration and contributed to the downfall of our international relations and this country's current state? Anyway, this pastor says we young Black people don't have a right to vote or choose who our next President should be, because we're ignorant, have no substance, have amassed massive college debt, we're trying to "eat and date white" and we've corrupted society. Notwithstanding the fact that he sounds like one of the biggest, intra-racially bigoted, mark ass, ignoramuses yet. What the FUCK does "eating white" mean?? I'd love to hear him expound on that whole theory of eating white.

January 13, 2008


Presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, may have an ally in one black billionaire, but seems to have left a bad taste in another's mouth, referring to Clinton supporter and BET founder Bob Johnson. I'm not the most political person. Politics is one of the topics I try to stay away from when conversing with people, because I'm easily irritated (and bored). In fact, I loathe many and most politicians, because I believe them to be self-serving and disingenuous (whether they be die hard liberals, progressives, dems, repubs, etc). While I wont give an in-depth opinion about this current race, I will say that Barack Obama seems genuine to me, and NO it's not because he's black (besides, he isn't the only black candidate to've run for president). The "girl power" in me admires Hillary's savvy and smarts, but I'll also opine that something about Hillary Clinton's approach and character irk the hell out of me. She seems slightly phony and dubious. This is definitely shaping up to be one of the most monumental and significant presidential races to date. Thoughts?

January 06, 2008


... Rent it. Manderlay is a foreign director's take on American slavery in the South. Conceived by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier the film is a sequel to von Trier's Dogville (which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace), and is part of his USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy. It continues the tale of Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard), who is traveling through the south with her gangster father (Willem Defoe) and his merry band of fellow thugs during the early 1930s, after having fled Dogville. En route to whereverville they stop outside a plantation (Manderlay), in bumf*ck Alabama to take a breather, when a black woman in full "slave regalia" taps on the car window and implores them for help, because a fellow slave is about to be whipped for stealing. Grace inquires within and discovers that slavery (quarters and all) is still alive and well, 70 years AFTER its abolishment. After a confrontation with the plantation's ruthless mistress Mam (played by Lauren Bacall), who's hemmed up on her death bed and who eventually dies, Grace decides to stay (along with a few of her father's best thugs, including a lawyer) to teach Manderlay's ignorant breed the fundamentals of freedom and how to be civilized and self sufficient... much to her father's chagrin. Dad bids grace farewell and burns rubber, leaving Grace to her own devices, but not before discouraging her from ever trying to locate his whereabouts. Grace is also made privy to a notebook called "Mam's Law." Its contents is basically a meticulously documented and comprehensive code of conduct for all the slaves, and what Mam has used to gain psychological power over them all. Each Manderlay inhabitant is divided up as follows:
  • Group 1: Proudy Nigger
  • Group 2: Talkin' Nigger
  • Group 3: Weepin' Nigger
  • Group 4: Hittin' Nigger
  • Group 5: Clownin' Nigger
  • Group 6: Loser Nigger
  • Group 7: Pleasing Nigger (also known as a chameleon, a person of the kind who can transform himself into exactly the type beholder would like to see)

Essentially, after Mam's death, Grace designate herself as bearer of great news and alerts Manderlay's slaves to the fact that slavery was abolished some time ago and that she will stay on to make sure they transition accordingly and sans minimal incident. They are however, mortified at the prospect of living "another way of life" for Manderlay and the comforts its strict system are all they're familiar with. Needless to say, without relaying too many details, Grace assumes her position, punishes Manderlay's white overseers via role reversal- (she makes them serve Manderlay's slaves dinner, in Black Face in one scene)- and eventually discovers that the inhabitants of Manderlay are indeed clever and aren't as ignorant as she initially thought and that it is she, in all her idealistic and liberal, forward thinking, and at times pretentious grandeur, who is ignorant.
The film is interesting in its approach. It tells the tale of Manderlay in 8 chapters. The Film's aesthetic and discourse unfolds just like a live stage play. It may not appeal to particular film tastes because of this... but it's worth a look-see anyway. It also stars Isaach de Bankole (one of my favorite actors) and Danny Glover (as the "talking nigger").
I, of course, am always mildly amused by how Europeans view race relations in the United States. While racism isn't as cut and dried or overt there, as it is in America, it does exist despite rumblings to the contrary. At times, it's an even more complex and multilayered system, because there was never nor is there currently a Civil Rights Movement or minority leaders who are as vocal as some of ours are and were (Farrakhan, Malcolm, M.L. King, Panthers, Davis, umm Jackson, err, Sharpton?). There aren't any organizations that really champion that particular cause in Europe, or at least none that I'm aware of. Unfortunately many countries refuse to acknowledge the role racism plays in their country, but there have been noble attempts to bring immigration and the history of slavery to the forefront and half-assed, reluctant ones, because particular countries refuse to acknowledge the reality of growing multiculturalism and bigotry in their sphere. They'd prefer their immigrants to become naturalized only if the shuck their ethnic pride out the window **cough-cough France**
Xenophobia runs just as deep if not more, in Europe than it does here, in some instances. Especially in countries like Germany (see the film Otomo, also starring Isaach de Bankole). I'm a fan of much of von Trier's work, but I suspect that his approach was a little pretentious and self-aggrandizing. His attempt to describe the system of slavery in the U.S. was underwhelming and fell short of whatever his intention may well have been. It also shows just how little the world knows about the history of slavery, in the United States and especially in the deep south particularly if you've never stepped foot there. Manderlay still deviates from the norm, is darkly comedic, seemingly anti-American/anti-U.S.'s foreign policy, and will definitely prompt discussion if not annoyance. For those reasons alone, it's worth renting and watching. I'd go ahead and rent Dogville too...

November 13, 2007

Rat Race

I can openly say (now) that I've been pounding the pavement for the past several months, job interviewing, hunting, fielding phone calls, mailing out resumes, receiving notices confirming receipt of my resume, wash, rinse and then repeat. Needless to say, the whole process is frustrating. It's the pits! Particularly when you're so close. Sooooo very close to being hired only to be told "Ohhh.... well you're too overqualified" or "We can't move forward with an offer for another two months. Sorry for putting you through SEVERAL INTERVIEWS AND PHONING EVERY LAST ONE OF REFERENCES, AND DOING THAT BACKGROUND CHECK ON YOU!! Please bear with us..." Notwithstanding the fact that you've answered all of their redundant (and sometimes condescending and ridiculous) questions, and have been more than accommodating in providing them with everything they need to move forward with an offer, including making yourself available at a moment's notice for another interview. I feel like a salesperson, going door to door selling your wares. One or two people invite you in. Let you sit down and go through your whole spiel. They nod. They ask several questions. They seem interested. They breathe in as if they're about to say, "I'm sold! I'll take two!" Only to change their minds and say, "Ohhh. I'm sorry. I'm not interested." Argh! Frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if those doing the interviewing, remember what it was like when they were practically groveling for their jobs... I need a drink.
The movie clip is from the film, Fear and Trembling, based on Amelie Nothomb's novel Stupeur et Tremblement.

November 06, 2007


Picture a moment in space and time where you've become trapped in a stifling box. You suddenly become stagnant and lose your place in the rat race, because you've dropped out. Not willingly. Not without lack of trying to reach the finish line, but from fatigue. You veer off to the side, lungs exhausted, holding your sore sides trying to catch your second wind. You've made your way over to a nearby bench to settle. You settle out of mere necessity and survival and no other reason. Your discontentment breeds resentment, because while you've settled in order to survive, you still find yourself hanging on by the tips of your fingers. You're hanging from a cement ledge, decorated with pigeon droppings (some old and crusted over, some freshly dropped), your feet wildly kicking... a desperate attempt to gain leverage and hoist yourself up. But alas to no avail. You basically just give up and decide to meet the asphalt's acquaintance. Just before you decide to let go, someone stomps on your fingers with a lethal pair of oxfords, forcing your throbbing fingers to slip. You fall. arms flailing wildly in the wind. On your way down you glimpse a blur of faces, watching you fall to your death. You hit the ground. Lying flat on your back. You're stunned. You can't move. First your eyes focus on hulking human forms staring at you from where you've fallen. Smug in the grandeur of their positions. At first you can't move. You lay there... looking up at a sea of genuinely concerned faces staring o'er your crumpled body. Sore and possibly broken, you somehow manage to hoist yourself up. Testing your right arm first. You slowly lift it in the air, grimacing from the pain and effort. Stiff, straight you make a fist with your hand. Slowly but surely, you're able to lift your middle finger in a grand gesture of triumph. You aren't defeated nor are you paralyzed. Your joints seem to work fine. More importantly you've managed to survive the fall. Finger in the air, you watch the hulking silhouettes retreat back inside and away from your moxie. Chagrined. It make take brief period to recover from your fall, but you're still triumphant... because you survived it.
Just saying. Imagine that scenario. That's it.

July 28, 2007

Criminal Minds

"I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people."
Don't oppose the current war in Iraq or our current White House administration's plans for World Domination. Opposing the War on Terrorism is against the law. Don't complain about your rights as an American and definitely don't quote the laws of The Constitution when arguing that point. Personal rights and the laws of The Constitution officially don't matter anymore. Oh and Good luck believing everything you see and read in the (government controlled) media. Liberal, right-wing... it's all a bunch of filtered B.S.

February 05, 2007

Memo: I Speak Well!

It’s like an educated black person is a rare sighting, like seeing a spotted egret. We’re viewed as a fluke. How many flukes simply constitute reality?
Reginald Hudlin, president of entertainment for Black Entertainment Television.

My friend Cat, recently forwarded a New York Times article to me regarding Senator Joseph R. Biden’s assessment of Senator Barack Obama. Biden seemed struck with amazement when he referred to Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” OH ME! OH MY!

You know, very rarely do I get political on my blog, but statements like this make me flinch. Comedian D.L. Hughley couldn’t have put it more beautifully when he said,

"subtle words like this are more insidious. It’s like weight loss. The last few pounds are the hardest to get rid of. It’s the last vestiges of racism that are hard to get rid of."

Statements made by people like Senator Biden get under my skin, because I experience similar, back-handed compliments just like it… and often. Some white people look at me, they see the color of my skin, and they expect sheer and utter trash to come spilling out of my mouth. They must be, if they’re that taken aback by my diction.

At times, much to my amusement, they’ve read something I've written, and will comment, “You speak just like you write!” They’re aghast that I can string together complete sentences, or engage them in intelligent discourse. I remember once, I visited a graduate studies course on blogging and media, where students and their journalist professor wanted to interview me, about this very blog. I remember this one man, while he was extremely kind, kept on commenting on how “well” I spoke. I was a slightly agitated, and thought to call him on it, but didn’t.

While I’m sure Senator Biden didn’t mean any harm, covert bigotry is so much more insulting… damaging even, because it dictates that Black people can’t be intelligent, cultured, articulate, and that people have low expectations of us. It takes a page out of the book, The Bell Curve and it measures intellect on a scientifically bigoted scale. It perpetuates this ridiculous notion, that Black people can’t be beautiful, successful, attractive, or smart without all these prerequisites and quite frankly I’m tired of it.

“Oh, she’s sooo pretty for a Black woman.” “Wow, I didn’t know you were a physicist! You’re so tall, I thought you played basketball!” or my favorite, “He/She must’ve gotten into Harvard Law, because of Affirmative Action.”
President George W. Bush (of all people) has also described Obama as being “articulate” during interviews.

People who don’t experience this type of back-handed, concealed (and oft times harmless and unconscious) bigotry may read this entry and roll their eyes, but understand that it can’t be understood, if you don’t experience people having a low opinion about your capabilities to begin with, because of your ethnicity or skin color.

It’s the same feeling I get when men (especially white men) expect less from me, because I’m a woman. Or they become exasperated and call us nasty names that rhyme with witch and hunt, because we won’t acquiesce or dumb ourselves down, to placate them.

Biden would later go on The Daily show and expound on his comments, “Look, what I was attempting to be, but not very artfully, is complimentary. This is an incredible guy. This is a phenomenon.” Intellect covers a wide spectrum... race, sex, and ethnicity notwithstanding... and so does ignorance and stupidity, apparently.

My question is; Why not say, to begin with, “Barack is dynamic, an incredible and charismatic man!” rather than insinuate he’s a rare, extinct breed of Negro?? And just for the record, he is NOT the FIRST mainstream African-American who is articulate, bright, and clean...

August 25, 2006

Social Class Differentials, The One Percent, and 'Favela Rising'

Yesterday, while lounging around on what turned out to be a lazy day off, I caught an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, which I usually never watch. The topic of discussion was Class in America; which can dissolve into a heated discussion, because no one really likes to discuss class, race, or the presumptions people believe about others and how those erroneous opinions are used to stereotype others and perpetuate class hierarchies. 
People tend to judge who they deem to be lower-class based on their diction, how they look, their skin color, whether their nails are clean or dirty, and how bad their teeth are; or at least, these were some of the qualifiers Oprah's audience members used to determine someone's social standing. 
One woman posited  that when she saw an obese person, she considered them to be at the lower rung of the economic ladder. This same woman also said that she grew up in a working class farming community and how most of the farmers had filthy nails, and this is why she equates dirty nails with lower class people. Filmmaker and heir to the Johnson & Johnson corporation, Jamie Johnson filmed a documentary called The One Percent, which details the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and the one percent being those who control about 40% of the wealth in America
During the show segment, Jamie explained how his father had never been comfortable with discussing money. In fact, his father was downright indignant during one clip that was shown, and abruptly ended the conversation. This type of evasive behavior-- reluctance to discuss family wealth perhaps stems from the discomfort of having to unpack one's privilege and not have to acknowledge issues like how systemic inequality works to marginalize and disenfranchise the poor... particularly Black and brown people. I also found it troubling (albeit unsurprising) when an economist pointed out the shrinking middle-class and the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the poor; a realization that slapped the masses in the face during and after the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the clusterfuck that ensued during the storm's aftermath. 
Seems no matter how much the working class work towards upward social mobility, it’s still hard to make ends meet and it develops into a cycle of living pay check to pay check, just one faulty step ahead of having the rug snatched out from under your feet. Not seeing the fruits of hard labor coupled with being oppressed in various other ways, is a depressing reality for many. One Black man from Chicago, whose story was also featured during the course of the show, said that he qualifies as being part of the working class and that he viewed those with money as being snooty and dismissive, and how most of them don’t even acknowledge his humanity or presence. One show guest's... a woman .. story also stood out to me. She relayed that she earned her living as a cocktail waitress at a high-end restaurant, where most of the clientele is wealthy. She said that most of her work evenings were spent having people look down their noses at her and snapping their fingers at her, addressing her as "Hey! Can you come over here!" She also said that most of the restaurant patrons assumed she was in school and was just working at the restaurant to earn some pocket change, only to appear chagrined and somewhat condescending upon learning that the restaurant was, in fact, her full-time job. 
Outside the restaurant’s uniform, she said she dressed really nice and trendy, wore and carried a pair of counterfeit Gucci shades and purse (which most people assumed to be the real deal), kept immaculately manicure hands, cute shoes, and drove a BMW (which she said was a gift). She said that people on the street, outside the realm of her workplace, assumed she was snooty and had a lot of money, never considering that she was also a struggling member of the working class. This woman’s story resonated with me because I live that experience everyday except, according to those taking inventory, I'm a black woman who speaks in a way they deem to be 'proper', sometimes enjoy cultural activities mostly ascribed to white people, and reside downtown; and I navigate this experience at various intersections... particularly race, gender, and class. 
Most people assume I make a lot of money because of where I live and how I dress when really, I'm fumbling towards a sustaining my livelihood working at a non-profit organization where I'm woefully underpaid, whose staff is predominantly white, and where my white female co-workers are favored over me for promotions and opportunities to flex their creative muscles. Unlike working-class white women, the chance to move forward often eludes me, and I'm expected to be overly conscientious about 'my place' on the social, racial, and class hierarchy lest I'm unceremoniously fired as a way to 'put me back in my place' for being 'too smart' (read: too uppity). 
My place of employment grants me access to (mostly-white) one-percenters and, to be frank, they’re even ruder and more dismissive of and condescending to me, just for my existing in this skin. They often express surprise that I convey an air of  intelligence, make sure to tell me how "articulate" I sound and seem bemused that I've had the opportunity to travel abroad. 
People who stereotype someone’s class based on race, appearance and something as superficial as dirty nails, are ignoramuses who willfully refuse to recognize their own privilege and how they consistently operate to marginalize others. Some of the most uncouth, inarticulate,  ill-mannered people I've had the displeasure of meeting just happen to have a lot of money. Additionally, some of the most educated, well-traveled, most articulate, and cultured people whose company I've enjoyed, don't have a lot of money and barely live above the poverty line. That being said, I saw a delightful documentary called Favela Rising.
Favela Rising is about a pro-active group called AfroReggae, who do a lot in their communities to educate and  help keep younger people (and corrupt police officers) from destroying themselves and their favelas via the arts, music, and dance. Think Rize, but with more depth of character and insight. Anderson Sa, the primary focus of the documentary, initiates a lot of community outreach programs, primarily in Brazil and worldwide, helping raise awareness. This is a clear example of people taking back control of their communities and stories, and presenting themselves in a positive light. It's definitely worth checking out! 

August 13, 2006


short PSA about the crisis in Lebanon featuring Suheir Hammad and Danny Hoch. Presented by

August 03, 2006

Waiting with baited (and perhaps wasted) breath? ...

*Disclaimer: This is my blog and these are my opinions. I'm not some political rabble-rouser, some Che Guevara diehard, some aspiring revolutionary, or trying desperately to be controversial. I'm merely making an observation based on my own perspective. Rarely do I ever blog about politics or religion. I keep those opinions to myself... unless current events inspire me enough to do so... which is my prerogative. While I realize this topic of discussion is sensitive for some, it has piqued my curiosity enough, that I'm tossing in my two-cents. I reserve the right to do that every now and again, on here. That's it.
"Although we have been dogmatic, we have never preached cult of personality. You will not see a statue of me anywhere, nor a school with my name, nor a street, nor a little town, nor any type of personality cult because we have not taught our people to believe, but to think, to reason out." Fidel Castro
Are the Bush administration and other nations greedily awaiting to hear the official word on Castro's condition, so they can swoop in and dictate... er... urge Cubans to accept capitalism and democracy as the way to their salvation? It appears that way from my vantage point. Political commentators and those in high political offices have been weighing in, and the consensus seems to be that Raul, while he's quite smart and very organized, is not charismatic or articulate enough to handle the reigns as Cuba's next leader. Perhaps they're underestimating the prowess and intestinal fortitude of Fidel's younger brother and the people of Cuba- (like they did with the ill-fated and embarrassing Bay of Pigs invasion)- as all is quiet as a church mouse, on the Caribbean island. The coming days will paint a telling picture, and many of us are interested to see how the changing of the guard, will pan out. Let us not forget that the people in Iraq, at Bush's suggestion, are still trying to figure out how to construct a democratic country, seemingly to no avail, as the U.S. is still exerting a great deal of influence in the beseiged country. Those political forces outside of Cuba are drawing up (have drawn up?) the blue prints for a "new Cuba" even though they aren't as in the know as they'd like to be. Perhaps they're just wasting their breath in trying to delve into another unwilling country's affairs.

July 21, 2006

Don't feed the pigeons! Or the homeless!

Generally I stay away from your typical blog fodder: politics, religion, and re-hashed celebrity gossip (how about that Christie Brinkley?), but a recent article has prompted me to weigh-in one of the glaring problems this country is fraught with... Poor leadership and flagrant political grandstanding. This conduct could not have been anymore obvious than during Hurricane Katrina, but I digress. We wont rehash all those things we know were done wrong. In Hartford, CT, where I live, the northend is beseiged with gun violence, and the political power(s) that be and law enforcment don't seem to know how to reign in some of the problems running rampant, in that particular neighborhood. Poverty, frustration, discontentment, an insufficient school district, and the feeling of being ignored are a few of the primary elements that fuel violence. Perhaps failure to understand and connect with people who live in less than stellar environs is one of the primary reasons why a lot of our respective city's leaders can't do anything about it. Standing around holding and smiling in childrens' faces and holding large cooking utensils at soup kitchens for photo-ops, are certainly not productive solutions. Our country's leader, unfortunately, does not lead by example, but I digress again and certainly don't welcome any political mooting on that matter. It's just my opinion. My derring-do also allows me to state that I cannot stand any politicans from any political party. I vote, but I'm always torn up over it. You can only stand behind that curtain for so long. The lot of them are ne'er-do-wells. For instance, why is this George W. Bush's first time, since being voted into office, addressing the NAACP? Man declined 5 years in a row, before accepting the invitation to their annual convention. Many of the NAACP's chapter leaders took what our prez said with a grain of salt... they listened on warily and with good reason. I mean, the man ignored them for five years! While his working relationship with new leader Bruce Gordon is good enough, many of them feel as if he's pandering to their sensibilities at a crucial point in his career. Republicans seem to be at a crossroad and fear losing their stronghold on Congress. He has just publicly acknowleged (to my knowledge anyway) that this country is still fraught with discrimination, bigotry, and racism.
"I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties with the African American community... For too long my party wrote off the African American vote, and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party. That history has prevented us from working together when we agree on great goals. That's not good for our country," says he.
Is Bush reaching out to the NAACP, because he feels culpable for ignoring many of the problems prevalent in the Black community such as; lack of healthcare, minimum wage still being stuck at a paltry $5.15/hr, rampant unemployment, and that some victims of the hurricane are still homeless? Who knows. I guess my point is, just where do a lot of our politicians' priorities lie? Now onto what prompted my tirade ... that aforementioned article I read, which details the Las Vegas city council's attempt to ban feeding the homeless, namely mobile soup kitchens that operate from that city's parks. I realize that surrounding neighborhoods are concerned about the bad elements feeding homeless people from the park could attract, but when didn't it become in vogue to feed people in need?? What other alternatives are Las Vegas's city council offering, other than stating that homelessness is an unsightly blight on the city?? Greed, antipathy, and ignoring the issues of poverty are also nasty nasty blights. In fact, it's downright inhumane not to care about people in need! Why is good leadership so rare, nowadays? These people get voted in to do a job, and they muck it up! It's a universal epidemic, that's not just exclusive to the U.S. The world's leaders are messing up, royally. As I'm pondering these issues, coincidently enough, I'm listening to Seal's song, Crazy... Anyway, just read the article. It's 'right disgusting.